Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Less Than Zerto

That's what you are getting from me these days.

Zerto raises $50M for business data-recovery software 

Looks like a NSA data collection center, doesn't it? 

So what's on TV tonight?

"Survey of viewers shows gloomy picture for ESPN" by Matt Bonesteel Washington Post  January 14, 2016

WASHINGTON — Last year was rough for ESPN, full of big-name departures, doom-and-gloom forecasts about the company’s once-unparalleled revenue streams, and layoffs, with about 300 employees let go amid cost-cutting demands from parent company Disney.

This happened the last time we had a stock market bubble that drove massive wealth inequality. All the money must be poured into agenda-pushing concerns, of course, and thus ESPN Classic was launched in order that the masses may be distracted with games, pastimes, and $port to distract their minds from questions.

That's not to say sports do not have their place; however, check out who is bringing you the endless, 24/7 sports chatter on TV and radio. It's banks and other corporate interests.

This year isn’t starting any better — and not simply because of plummeting TV ratings from the College Football Playoff semifinal games on New Year’s Eve and Monday’s title game.


A survey of 1,582 consumers commissioned last week by BTIG Research found that 56 percent of respondents would remove ESPN and ESPN2 from their cable packages to save $8 per month, which is about the cost cable subscribers pay to receive the networks.

Broken down by gender, 60 percent of female respondents and 49 percent of male respondents said they would remove the sports networks to save money.

‘‘Even more interesting, results did not vary by age, with Millennials, Gen X’ers, and Boomers all similar, adjusting for the survey’s margin of error,’’ BTIG Research’s Richard Greenfield wrote in a story about the survey results.

ESPN’s business plan has long been dependent on fees paid by cable subscribers, most of whom pay for the channel whether they watch it or not as part of a bundle of offerings. But that model has been threatened by cord-cutting — consumers jettisoning cable altogether in favor of online streaming services such as Netflix or HBO Go, combined with the astronomical increases in fees paid by ESPN to sports leagues to carry live events.

Last year, for instance, Disney/ESPN signed a deal with the NBA that will cost the network $1.4 billion per year over nine years to show professional basketball games, three times the amount of the previous rights agreement. 

I never watch. I find the game boring.

Seven million US households have dropped ESPN in the past two years, Disney said in a federal filing submitted in November. Its subscription base is down to 92 million homes, the lowest in nearly a decade, and the operating profit Disney expects to receive from ESPN — its most profitable cable channel — is expected to flatten this year, leading to a cost-cutting mandate from Disney.

To combat these losses, Disney chief executive Robert Iger has said ESPN is prepared to offer a direct-to-consumer subscription service, in which consumers would pay for ESPN programming by itself without subscribing to a cable package.

However, this plan also presents a certain amount of risk. As previously noted, if 30 percent of ESPN’s current subscribers shifted to paying for the network via an online service, Disney would need to charge about $20 per month to make up for the revenue from lost cable subscribers.

BTIG Research also asked about this in its survey, and its results were similarly bleak for ESPN and Disney. The survey found that only 6 percent of respondents would subscribe to ESPN and ESPN2 at $20 per month, with 85 percent indicating they wouldn’t and 9 percent saying they weren’t sure.

People can live without ESPN? You're kidding?

‘‘The reality is that ESPN would likely have to charge dramatically more than $20/month/sub in a direct-to-consumer model, given the dramatic reduction in penetration rates,’’ Greenfield writes, pointing out another strike against this plan: Many consumers wouldn’t subscribe to such a package on an annual basis, instead turning it off or on depending on the time of year (NFL fans only subscribing during football season, for instance).

Or just live without it, period. 

I remember how Sundays opened up way back when there were player strikes.

An ESPN spokesman said the network would have no comment about the survey. In comments made to CNBC in July, Iger described as ‘‘conjecture’’ the predictions that Disney would have to charge $20 and up for a direct-to-consumer ESPN service to be profitable. In August, he told CNBC that the bundling of ESPN in cable packages still is a viable business model.

Start charging separately for ESPN? An added fee?


Now for the hard news:

"Al Jazeera America shutting down in April" by Paul Farhi Washington Post  January 14, 2016

Al Jazeera America, the low-rated cable news network that sought to take on Fox News and CNN, will shut down operations at the end of April, less than three years after going on the air, the network told its staff Wednesday in a surprise move. 

I gave them about two days. The faces and focus were the same as the AmeriKan jew$media, only with a Sunni oil sheik's slant (Syria, Iran, and Shi'ites bad; did cover Palestinian suffering at hands of Israel though) so I stopped watching. I think it was when they bent over backwards and endorsed global warming that did it.

The New York-based network, part of a media empire owned by the royal family of the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, launched in August 2013 after its parent company paid $500 million to buy Current TV, a struggling cable channel founded by former vice president Al Gore.

AJA hoped to be a straightforward, nonpartisan alternative to other news channels and was often praised by news analysts for the thoroughness and objectivity of its reporting. It hired a number of TV news veterans as program hosts and managers, including people from NBC, CNN, and Fox News.

Yes, if forced to watch cable news I would have chosen them over the AmeriKan networks.

But the channel ran into trouble even before it started. AT&T, a major cable-system owner, dropped it from its channel lineup over a contract dispute, cutting off access to several million homes. Time Warner Cable also dropped its predecessor, citing low ratings, several months before Al Jazeera America hit the air.

AmeriKan jew$media takes no chances.

It then spent months rebuilding its distribution. As of Wednesday, it was available in about 64 million households, or about a third less than its major rivals.

It never gained traction in the ratings; some programs had such small audiences that the Nielsen rating service was unable to detect any viewers.

The channel was also wracked by turnover among its top executives, and a lawsuit filed last year by a former employee that alleged sexism and anti-Semitism in the workplace.

The news comes only nine months after Al Jazeera — ‘‘peninsula’’ in Arabic, reflecting Qatar’s landmass — said it was expanding its live programming. The channel added two hours of morning programming in March.

It also comes a month after Al Jazeera America broadcast perhaps its best-known story — an undercover investigative report called ‘‘The Dark Side’’ that alleged the use of performance-enhancing drugs by star pro athletes. Among others, it said the wife of Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning received shipments of banned substances around the time in 2011 that Manning was recovering from a series of neck surgeries that threatened his playing career.

That story went right down the ma$$ media memory hole (as predicted; if only I could pick the games as well) -- unlike all the hot air surrounding Deflategate.

The documentary suggested, but did not say outright, that Manning, then with the Indianapolis Colts, was taking the drugs. Manning has denied using any banned substances.

Two of the athletes named in the story, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, have sued the network, reporter Deborah Davies, and an athlete named Liam Collins who conducted undercover interviews, claiming libel and invasion of privacy.

Al Jazeera continues to maintain an Arabic-language channel and its English-language forerunner of Al Jazeera America called Al Jazeera English. Both channels are distributed outside the United States.



Police had to rush forgotten footballs, air gauges to Patriots game

Patriots-Broncos matchup is a game but also a culture war

What is this? They called Gronk a jerk?